I am very concerned that our culture has shut down debates. I discussed earlier my concern about a stable government needing a super-majority consent to be governed by a mere majority. I suggested this consent comes from mutual respect of equal intelligence and good intentions despite having differences of opinions. I think this mutual respect is being eroded and that the popular approaches to diversity are contributing to that erosion.
In my recent posts on diversity, I discussed my minority viewpoint that diversity is extending to all others an acknowledgement of equal intelligence and of good intentions in spite of firm disagreements. Although I didn’t state it so explicitly before, I think a key part of diversity is disagreement of opinion.
I suggested that the core benefit of expanding diversity is to confront conflicting views and resolve them in a mutually acceptable way though consensus or compromise. The project of diversity is to deliberately seek out contrary views, views held by people who will argue to defend those views. I have an expectation that different life experiences or cultures will bring disagreements. My view of the diversity project is even more general to encompass differences of views within what would appear to be equal cultures and life experiences.
In an earlier post specifically on diversity, I described the more alternative popular view of diversity that holds that building a team or a group involves replacing past prejudices with new ones that is inclusive of the team and exclusive of any competing teams. I suggested this as a photogenic view of diversity: it makes for a diverse group photograph with everyone clearly enjoying the team’s social event. I also suggested that this view discourages disagreements, or advocates burying of all disagreements safely beneath a smiling face. Disagreements describe the team’s interaction with opposing teams, not what happens within a team.
I believe that this alternative view does characterize the more popular notions of diversity and it is nearly polar opposite of my own views.
This more popular interpretation of diversity is inherently divisive in two ways.
First, it exaggerates differences with opposing teams in a way that invites prejudice and exclusion. This inter-team rivalry is where the arguments are directed. It pushes the team toward a system of shared values and identity that approximates primitive tribalism where tribal membership is defined by voluntary group membership instead of heredity. Eventually, there will be some kind of warfare between competing tribes, figuratively or literally.
Second, it suppresses real differences within a team. The emphasis is on being comfortable together. This is analogous to tribal traditions of shared customs, celebrations, festivals, etc. Disagreements have to be buried in order to present a happy face of the team working as a unit.
To contrast this view with my own, I think it is best if we actively express our differences within a team and continue to express those differences in a succession of compromises that gradually builds a team consensus that may be distinct from any individuals. These are disagreements. They will result in arguments, and perhaps heated arguments. Through this type of explicit expression of views in the context of a close team provides the opportunity to gain the collective wisdom of all of the participants. It may not make for a happy photo opportunity.
I also think it is best we can approach our adversarial teams with respect. Although these teams may be competing for some market of products or ideas, this is not a reason to demand exclusion of friendly interaction between the members of the teams. I suggested that it the groups of friendships may be independent of the teams. In my vision people on a team may arrange themselves into sub-groups of friends perhaps sharing a point of view with respect to some current controversy within the team. These sub-groups of friends may include friends who belong to competing teams.
My view is that friendships, the group of people who enjoy socializing with each other, is distinct from team memberships.
Applying my concept to politics, having these social networks overlap the political teams is part of what makes possible the super-majority consent to be governed by a mere majority. In addition, because my view encourages intra-team debate of differences, it allows the majority to make progress in solving real problems.
Pretending there are no disagreements within a team stifles any progress. Instead we get continuing resolutions such as our government has been experiencing lately. Resolutions to merely continue doing what was done before. It becomes like a tribal tradition.
Exaggerating the differences between the two sides effectively shuts down any possibility of compromise. The battle is of domination and defeat of the opposing side instead of compromise. Any remnant of consent extended by the opposed side is driven by the promise that some day they’ll be able to turn the tables.
In this winner-takes-all conflict of cohesive teams, we get stuck in a primitive mode of tribal warfare that makes no progress for generations. The kind of tribal existence we presume existed before the first civilizations.
We are risking exactly the same kind of reversion to tribalism we see playing out in various failed or struggling states around the globe.
In the current political environment, both sides benefit of the popular view of diversity (that I don’t accept) that demands people to drop old prejudices and embrace new ones that commit to the accepted traditions within the team and that commit to nothing but disagreements with the opposing team. Diversity requires dropping old prejudices in favor of the team’s traditions in order to battle the opposing team.
In earlier decades, we had a limited scope of diversity involving cultures, races, sexes, and perhaps handicaps. Recently, there has been an explosion of new identity groups that need to be included in the project of diversity. This increase in identity groups enhances the opportunities to build up the team’s population. It is also used to divide the teams by providing fewer reasons to extend that decency of acknowledgement of intelligence and good will.
The project of today’s politics is to revert to tribalism and the ultimate goal is tribal domination.
I don’t think this is accidental. I think we are being driven to our primitive instincts to become more tribal. I think that driving force is fear.
Fear is driving us to our primitive tribal instincts. The solution to our fears is to construct a happy tribe that can conquer the opposing tribes forever. If both the conquering and the maintenance of internal happiness can succeed, then we’ll be able to get through what is fearing us.
These fearful things fear us so much we don’t dare bring them up in conversations within the team. Introducing new identity groups to divide the population provides a great team project of diversity to divert attention from our fears.
These fearful things fear us so much we don’t even dare to bring them in our conflict between teams. Focusing on diversity for competition between teams is a great diversion from what fears us most.
It is the purpose of government to face up to the fears of the population and conquer those fears. So great are these modern fears that we have conveniently and desperately invented distractions to avoid this governing obligation.
What are these fears we dare not mention? I can think of a few.
- Declining US influence and stature on world stage, and growing strength and number of credible adversaries
- An astronomical debt that we can’t afford, plus underfunded obligations of our entitlement programs that amount to debts that are unthinkable to the point of being uncalculable
- An increasingly Byzantine government that is rapidly becoming outside of democratic control, resulting in a rule by a ruling class unanswerable to any democratic process, and demanding ever increasing funds to operate
- Rapidly advancing technology that increasingly threatens the loss of individual independence in terms of security, privacy, or protection of property, and that also increasingly diminishes middle-class income opportunities
We don’t talk about these fears much in politics. Instead, we focus entirely on election contests with the focus of building cohesive teams with stark differences from the opposing side. Both the cohesiveness and stark differences are focused topics that offer distraction from our fears. Diversity is a prolific source of distraction.
Our goal is to build a single tribal tradition of self identity that can live though the manifestation of our fears. Manifestations that that we felt powerless to prevent. We are as powerless as primitive tribes relying on ceremonies to conjure up some supernatural force to at least console us if not offer assistance.